Tuesday, 5 February 2008

All men are bastards..

A simple suggestion last Sunday that we go for a family outing to Paignton Zoo sent Hubby into a wild rage which culminated in me packing a bag and attempting to leave. I didn’t get very far for a number of reasons, the main one being the big blue eyes of my four children looking forlornly on and the fact that, being a kept woman, I don’t have any independent means and thus could not by any stretch furnish myself with food, clothes and shelter.
If I’d realised that a day out looking at some wild animals would have elicited such a response I’d have kept my mouth shut and got on with filling the washing machine, but as I’d been up since 7am, done a mountain of ironing and presented the family with a platter full of French toast, bacon and maple syrup and, given that for the first time in a long time the sky was azure blue, I felt justified in making such a suggestion.
Hubby however, perhaps worn out from his new job of getting up every morning at 5a.m and returning late in the evening was not amenable to the idea of a day out. Were he to have just said, “Alice love, it’s a nice idea, but I’m whacked, let’s do something a little more low key”, I could have understood. Instead he fell into a full on tirade of how I was constantly irresponsible regarding our finances, as he oh, so clearly pointed out, “All is do is earn the money and all you do is spend it”. I pointed out that of course I did seeing as it is only I that does the shopping and sees to the children’s more material needs. When I say pointed out we were of course by this point shouting rather loudly at one another, insult after insult, long repressed resentment finding a forum to be exorcised. It was ugly and finally culminated in Hubby roaring, “In all these years Alice you have done nothing to assist me”. I reeled backwards as though shot. Did he just say what I thought he’d just said?
The last twenty years flashed before me and I remembered the months and months of deployments were I brought up various young children on my own. I remembered the phone calls from Antigua were Hubby was just going to a champagne lunch as I swallowed my Prozac, sinking in a pit of post natal depression. I remembered all the Naval dinners and balls I’d attended where I’d behaved impeccably and listened politely to interminable speeches and anecdotes by various naval top bods. I’d bitten my tongue on numerous occasions when political opinion was conflicting with my own and at all times did the best I could to make a good impression for Hubby’s sake. Many is the time, overcome with ennui that I could have sunk another glass of port and slid under the table. I remembered the successful career he has forged because I was always there like some faithful Labrador, all tongues an tails a-wagging. I remembered being whipped off to America, where at the time I had quite a successful career – well, slightly flourishing, only to return with another baby, no mother and most certainly no career. I was mad. M.A.D. Virgil.
‘Nothing to assist him?’ I thought. Well we’ll just see about that. I will remove my assistance and see how he copes unassisted. My first list informing Hubby of which child did what on which day and with whom, was crumpled into a little ball, so I wrote another one and stuck it on the fridge. Then with heaving chest and wracking sobs I ran upstairs to pack a bag. Hubby, perhaps having seen the errors of his ways or more likely worried that he wouldn’t be able to go to work the following day without childcare, wrestled the bag from me. I pulled the handles in one direction, he the other.
Suddenly a “Yoo-hoo” from downstairs brought us to some extent, our senses as Mags called up the stairs, “You two up to some Sunday morning recreation?!” How more removed from the truth could she have been.
I ran down. “I’m leaving him Mags. I can’t stand it any longer”. Mags looked stricken, but as ever in charge, handed me a tissue and delving into her designer handbag pulled out a pair of Gucci sunglasses, “Put these on and let’s go for a coffee”.
There are few places to drink coffee on the Rame Peninsula on a Sunday morning but luckily the lovely Moran’s in Kingsand was open and unbeknownst to them was a refuge that day. Over coffee and a complimentary bit of fudge which was very welcome given that my mother always advised something sweet for shock, I spilt my beans, “There’s nothing I can do though Mags. I can’t really leave. I am a chattel, a kept woman, a captive audience. If he chooses to stop putting money into our joint account, I’ll starve to death”. I’ve never been one for understatement. Mags did a lot of soothing ‘there, there’s’ before we left and she drove me home to face the music.
I arrived to find Hubby making a picnic. “I’ll leave you to it”, said Mags kissing me before she closed the front door.
I was feeling terribly feeble and worn out. My packed bag was nowhere to be seen. “Thought we’d go up onto Dartmoor”, suggested Hubby, “Have a walk around Burrator reservoir”. It was hardly the ape house but it was I could see an attempt at reconciliation. It was a quiet walk, the 12 year old could sense hostility but the younger ones were happy with the simple pleasures of muddy wellies, throwing stones and a strawberry 99. Several days later and we’ve held crisis talks and summit meetings and a matrimonial disaster has once again been avoided although not without a glass of wine being flung in the face of superciliousness.

19 comments:

Sally Lomax said...

It's a tricky one isn't it? Nothing can be a very big word. And of course, having lots of children may prepare you well for life, but for the working world, it does not always provide you with enough of the right type of experience......

Glad you sorted it out though. And glad you had a nice day out too. you do need to get out as a family sometimes.....

Alice Band said...

Sally - I would just love to be a woman of independent means. Then I could occasionally stick two fingers up.

It's just me said...

I know that feeling.

But, I'm sure it'll be one of those wee blips and normal marital bliss will arrive again soon.

Alice Band said...

it's just me - yeah, marital bliss. Of course!!

Mary Alice said...

Being a home maker is, in itself, a very unrated job....being a military spouse and homemaker IS THE MOST under rated....the things we are required to do....the flexibility we are required to have, the sacrifices that we are asked to make without any compensation whatsoever...well if you dwell on it at all, it will make you bat crazy. Just know that I know EXACTLY what you are on about.

enidd said...

oh, alice, have that hol in san francisco. we'll toast hubs battling with children and dirty linen.

and enidd empathises with the whole "you have the career" thing. enidd has followed the man around from country to country, and now he has the sparkling cv with titles like cto and vp engineering, and she's just a contractor who (of course) has the free time to wash his socks and make dinner. makes you feel like a bit of poo on the end of his shoe, sometimes, doesn't it?

Alice Band said...

Mary Alice - I seem to have lost myself somewhere along the way..

Alice Band said...

enidd - jesus I 'd love to come and see you. It is very tempting. You wouldn;t have to entertain me. Pease and quiet and a trip to Alcatraz and I'd be happy..

It's just me said...

Alice - come visit me and we'll go do the town!

Goan....

Alice Band said...

it's just me - I think I left a comment on your blog. I'm not sure, it was unfamiliar! Basically I just wanted to say that I'm very glad that you're feeling gorgeous and, wyt ti'n siarad Cymraeg?

It's just me said...

That was me.

Hurrah!

(I've not had any readers for months, but then to be fair I haven't had anything to say. So only myself to blame).

Mopsa said...

Alice B.... goodness. He's lucky he didn't find himself in casualty with a casserole rammed firmly over his ears. Folks you love can be the most thoughtless, useless twits sometimes. I sincerely hopes he apologises and relays in detail all the help you have been to him over the years of marriage. Being the only breadwinner is a horrendous threat to hang over a partner's head when circumstance dictates there is no alternative.

Alice Band said...

mopsa- he has been repentant,although a little more slef-flagellation wouldn't go amiss..

rosneath said...

That's what gets me .... you have the row and you are trying to make a very salient point and he won't listen so your volume control gets broken and it ends up .. grrr, so frustrating.

Somehow they just don't get the point, do they? I sat LOML down with Men are from Mars ... etc once and he so recognised himself. It worked for about a week until he went back to normal ... the bad legacy is the he now asks me 'what do you think ...' about everything ... my reply is usually ' I f*****g don't know all the answers!'

Anyway, the money thing is hard, especially tied up with naval life ... MoD has never moved into the 20th Century let alone the 21st!

Shout me down, but in spite of the family is there nothing you could do at home - sell his precious things on eBay, making a HUGE profit????

belle

Jo said...

I am so sorry, can picture it because I have been there too. Although not in the military, my husband works as a underwater welder/construction diver. Often his work is elsewhere for months at a time and for our family to function it is best if I stay at home and keep it going.

We get into these rows with frequency. They usually happen when both of us are just done--so tired--and in need of appreciation and neither has anything to give, so we instead fight over who does more and generally I leave and drive around listening to loud music trying to remember what it feels to be free and then I return and we apologize and continue to do the best we can.

I am glad to hear the supercilious is learning the error in his reasoning (or lack thereof).

mindthegap said...

I can roughly see where you're coming from, having abandoned my career and dedicated myself to my future hubby's career for one year so far in a crappy country, but at least at this stage there are no children to complicate matters. But I have had the - 'well you can do it, you do nothing all day anyway' remark - hmph - watch him starve and see all the dirty washing and filth pile up if I really did do nothing all day. I didn't talk to him for a day anyway after that comment and it made me feel better and I quite liked the peace and quiet. Chin up, Alice old bean and have another stiff gin. (maybe try and arrange a weekend away together sans enfants?).

thefoodsnob said...

I'm sorry that happened, but I think it was good for him to see how upsetting his indifference about what you do is.
I hope things work out well!


Lisa

Caffienated Cowgirl said...

I just found your blog through Mary Alice...and have added it to my reads.

Being in your 'boat', I can only say it's a hard life. We walk away from our own identity to follow our husband's careers...and pray for that they realize our sacrifices.

Keep the smile...there are more of us out here to talk to :)

Commander Rob Wilson Royal Navy said...

Alice, you only have yourself to blame - having clearly married into the wrong branch....

Further I can't believe you can be refering to the smooth professional who graced my cabin with his presence, weekly, at the back end of last year ?!

Seriously, though, your blog is a scream that - now we are away - helps to keep me sane. I only wish I could get away with your seering honesty in my own effort.